We got to check out The Bowery (55 Colborne Street) a few weeks ago. Chef Tawfik Shehata is doing the exec gig both here and over at The Ballroom, with Chef Jason Maw running the day to day. Both chefs were on hand the night we dropped by with a couple of friends, and we tried a number of dishes that were very impressive. Above, the grilled octopus with tomato confit, nicoise olives, baby arugula, polenta and squid ink aioli. Nice tender bits of squid and the aioli was really interesting – it looks a little odd on the plate, but it has a great flavour of garlic and squid.
The Scotch duck egg, wrapped in foie gras and duck confit, with house cured-duck breast, mustard greens and shallot jam. Yep, it was as amazing as it sounds.
The Bowery’s albacore tuna crudo with cilantro, serrano chili, fried garlic and orange zest. This was a delight, with a nice balance of flavours and just enough chili so that it wasn’t noticeable right away, but it kind of kicked in after a few bites.
We worried that our vegetarian friend wouldn’t have enough options with The Bowery’s menu, which leans to the meaty side, but a selection of pasta and pizza offered up this emerald gem. The green pizza is topped with grilled spring leeks, garlic scapes, spinach, oregano, serrano chili, lemon and chevre noir.
The Lake Huron pickerel with a saffron veloute, mussels and bacon doesn’t look like it will be particularly interesting, but this dish is all about flavour. The saffron and fish make it like a minimalist, modern bouillabaisse. Rock fingers for this one all the way.
Ricotta gnocchi with northern woods mushrooms, nettles, garden peas, hazelnut streusel and pecorino romano. In retrospect, while this was a delicious dish, it was a bit heavy for the very hot day we visited. But it has a lovely palette of late spring flavours and would have been perfect on a day under 25’C.
The Bowery’s dessert menu is short but focuses on housemade ice cream and gelato. This is a slice of cheesecake with – wait for it – carrot cake ice cream. Which is created by first making a whole carrot cake. Served with a sweet raisin compote.
When I interviewed Shehata for Toronto.com, he stressed the fact that the menu would evolve with the seasons. This was very much the case when he was the chef at Vertical, so it’s no surprise to see it at The Bowery as well. Which means that these dishes are likely to be different from week to week. The Bowery also boasts a huge charcoal grill so grilled meat (steak, venison, lamb, whole branzino) are prevalent on the menu, offered with seasonal sides (fava breans, zucchini, sauteed summer veg).
Much has already been written about the decor, but the space was welcoming a fun. I don’t know if it exactly bring back NYC’s Bowery district during its 1980s heyday, but a little more Ramones on the stereo could help that.